Switch Off

Nowadays, most of us have a smart phone. Even my technophobe boyfriend, who was adamant he would never purchase an iPhone, succumbed to a Christmas deal and got one. Like me, he uses it regularly to check the latest mails and play on addictive apps. Although smart phones have been a modern sensation, they’ve also come with an inevitable burden – once you have one you can’t switch off!

Recently I went out for dinner at Wagamama’s and beside us was a family of three, all of whom were gazing down and tapping at their phone screens. Rarely did they glance up to actually socialize with one another, instead they only raised their heads when they wanted a bite of ramen or a gyoza. It seems it’s become inherently difficult for people to separate themselves from their phone and to take part in what used to be real life.

Yet imagine William Wordsworth’s horror if whilst roaming the great English hillsides, his train of thought had been interrupted by his phone beeping with an e-mail from Microsoft’s Nemo telling him his mailbox is almost full. I doubt he would have found those golden daffodils quite as inspiring. If you can’t imagine yourself in the hillsides full stop, then it’s enough to make you wonder what’s taken a backseat in our lives since the rise of all these distracting devices.

How often do you sit on a train without switching on your iPod or arrive home without turning on your computer or TV? With all these diversions it gives us little time to appreciate what’s happening around us. Whether it’s catching sight of a deer in a field, a tenner floating along the street or someone looking for help. Do we even notice these moments that pass us by or are we too lost in a cyber world to realize or care.

It’s true we have also fallen victim to technology. Scientists have worked out that the amount of data sent to a typical person in the course of a year – through the internet, televisions, radios, newspapers and emails – is the equivalent of having to read 174 newspapers from cover to cover every single day. This information overload appears to have become an unavoidable problem of present-day life.

A growing movement Stateside, set up by Dan Fost, seeks to tackle this exact problem. Fost’s campaign, ‘Unplug’, recommends people steer clear of digital devices for at least 24 hours each week. This allows you to spend time, ‘slowing down, reflecting, reconnecting and unplugging.’ In other words, it brings you back to the flesh-and-blood world.

Fost has said that, ‘These days, everyone has a smart phone in their pocket, and the temptation is to constantly check it,’ he added, ‘It’s nice to dial that back a bit. Being unplugged makes you a lot more present.’ He does this by setting up an out-of-office e-mail reply that states that he has ‘unplugged – and suggests that the sender do the same.’

Although 24 hours seems like a long time to abstain from technology, it’s surely a detox worth attempting? In that time you could see friends in real life and not just on Facebook and twitter, get outside, eat, drink and be merry. It’s not the worst detox I’ve heard of.

Unplugging, even if it’s just for a few hours a night, gives you a break from your hectic schedule and allows you to enter a different and quieter headspace – perhaps even a Wordsworthian or Einsteinian one. In order to help with the process the team behind ‘unplug’ have also set up a network (ironically via Facebook), where you can receive weekly e-mails reminding you to switch off along with suggestions and ideas on how to use your time unplugged effectively.

Why not give it a try? Go lock your devices in another room, take a breather and reconnect with what’s important.

For more tips check out – http://theundolist.com


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